How to Store and Backup Photos and Videos While Traveling

While you've selected possibly the most boring article on the site, you will likely benefit from it the most! When abroad, your data is your everything. In ten years, you won't care about that cool Tiger Bia tanktop you had to have.  Instead, you'll treasure that picture of you washing a baby elephant. Since the data you have is intrinsically priceless, no effort or expense should be spared to protect it.  Luckily for you, we have simplified the entire process while finding the lowest cost possible.

STEP 1 - Download your Photos/Videos EVERYDAY

Every time we get back from a daily adventure, I immediately unload all the files from the camera memory cards.While I do this, I quickly name video files so that I have some idea what might in that clip. I also delete garbage, which is usually about 90% of the data.  Just like you don't pack 30 pairs of socks in your backpack, you don't need to clutter up your hard drive with stuff you'll never use.Clearing out your SD cards daily will help prevent simple problems like have a full memory card and not being able to take pics.Do you need to hang on to the 1,000+ pictures of making sure the GoPro is turned on?Additionally, by clearing out your SD cards every day, you guarantee that if an SD card does get corrupted (or lost), you limit how many of your memories you could stand to lose.  With how large micro SD cards are these days, it's much easier than you think to lose weeks of pictures to a corrupted SD card.

Step 2 - Save to External Hard Drive

While, in reality you could place your photos/videos on the hard drive of your computer, it is likely for long-term travel that you will run out of disk space.  That's why you'll need a safe place to store your memories.We use the Transcend 2TB External and love it... mostly because:The Transcend HD survived for two months in that green dry bag.
  • Great reviews (4.5 with 1,600+ reviews on Amazon)
  • USB 3.0 for quick data transfer.
  • Doesn’t require an extra power source.
  • Small form factor.
  • Inexpensive for 2 TB of storage space.
  • Survived the two month drive from HCMC to Hanoi.
You can purchase a 2 Year data recovery plan on Amazon along with the external for only $9.99. Should there be any problem with the hard drive, the service will recover data from the broken drive and move it to a replacement hard drive for you free of charge.


Step 3 - Protect your Memories with Online Data Backup

At this point, your data is off your cameras and on your external. Well done!  Except….what if something happens to your external hard drive?   That's where you need a backup plan.  Maybe two backup plans!

Plan A: Google Photos

  • Cost: $0
  • Capacity: Unlimited video and photos
  • Pros: Cost $0
  • Cons: Can’t store pics over 16MP or video higher than 1080P at native resolution
Tip: If you have google drive installed to your desktop, Go into the google drive settings and be sure to select to keep google photos temperate from your drive.  Otherwise Google Photos will upload pictures to your internal hard drive and fill it up in addition to storing it on the cloud.
Upload as many 16MP photos and as many 1080P video files as you want, however Google Photos also will not store the native data on these pictures.  Your photos will be saved as highly compressed jpg files.  Perfect for the casual traveler but not appropriate for a professional photographer.

Plan B:  CrashPlan

  • Cost: $60
  • Capacity: Unlimited
  • Pros: Can store as much data as you throw at it.
  • Cons: Annual fee.  Worth it though for unlimited storage
CrashPlan works as a background program on your PC that will constantly backup the files and locations you designate.  You can’t access your pictures or video on an app and browse like with Google Photos, but if your local HD is every stolen or destroyed, you can easily recover all of your original files in all their quality to another computer.

What's right for me?

  • Is all this 'technology talk' making your head spin, but you want to make sure your memories are safe?  Google Photos is a perfect option for you.
  • RAW photographers, drone pilots, or epic GoPro 4k fanatics, in order to store your files in their native form, cough up the $60 and be happy that all your art is perfectly safe. Don’t take my word for it though, check out what PCmag has to say...  then choose CrashPlan

Quick Recap

To prevent crying in a heap in the bathtub:

  1. Daily, upload all SD cards from devices to our external HD.
  2. Whenever you have internet, have the external HD backing up to Google photos and/or CrashPlan.
  3. Smile because you're so smart.

When you’re 90 years old in the retirement home, you can look back at your videos and photos on your 2-D RetroTech TV and think, “Hey, that was some grand adventure.  Good thing I was not only awesome enough to travel, but smart enough to protect my pictures"